The biggest challenge in being stuck at home is how to cope mentally with the situation. Due to chronic health issues and a suppressed immune system, ‘home quarantine’ similar episodes are very common to me, often lasting weeks to months, occasionally with my husband being on long work travels. I learned a lot of coping mechanisms. I would like to share them with you, in the hope it may help the one or the other.
- My home is my castle
Home is where I live. A safe place. There are always options to adjust even a temporary place of living more comfortable, with some personal touch. Surround yourself with things you love and you find comfort in. Create dedicated spaces for work, hobbies and sleep. If you life in a studio apartment, a colourful day blanket on the bed and/or a folding screen hiding the bed from plain side may help to minimize the ‘being stuck’ feeling. You would be surprised how much such small things can change your perception about being at home. Take special care of your home, because it is your place to be. Cleaning, fixing things, rearranging furniture, decorating… – everything possible what makes you feel more comfortable. Create a place where you want to be.
2. Structure, routine and rituals
Every person not having a out-of-house work can relate to that one: Maintaining a daily routine is of utmost importance. Especially when living alone and/or as couple. Going up to a certain time every day, the coffee/breakfast rituals, dedicated times for home office works, house chores, exercises, cooking/dining, reading/watching times.
As a couple, give each other some time and space during the days for doing ‘their own stuff’. Even when at home the entire time, it may help to still have some difference in your daily routine between weekdays and weekends. This helps to maintain a feeling of normality and not losing track of time entirely. A too unstable day/night rhythm can harm mental and physical health.
There are also plenty online initiatives offering exercise classes, learning new things, streaming of cultural input etc. Keeping oneself busy is as much as important as having some dedicated time to relax. Find dedicated times for all your tasks and needs. Routine and rituals help enormously to come through the days.
3. Combating fear and loneliness
Now we come to the most interesting and important part: How to combat fear and loneliness. Those are the true enemies in our all current situation.
Personal contact to people other than you live with is a no go. But fortunately we live in an age with plenty technologies helping us to stay connected. Social media, phones, messengers and video chat apps give us all the opportunity to check on each other, to talk, to stay connected. Feeling connected in separation, finding a new unity in separating ourselves to combat the spread of infection. And a good portion of humor. Support each other, encourage each other to come through this.
To combat fear is more difficult. Focus in the tasks at hand. There are things you can influence, and others not. Right now everyone of us is in the same situation. We do not know how much this crisis will impact our lives on the long run. Right now it is more important to be united in our separation to prevent the worst. Expressing your fears in some way is necessary to ‘let it out’, but getting lost in your fears needs to be prevented.
Focus on how you come through your day one day at a time. Stay in the now. Relaxation training and meditation may help to calm down and focus – you can find plenty guides online for free.
Talk about it to your friends and family (online/phone calls ;)), but also give some space in your talks to other topics.
Limit your daily media intake. Checking news every hour does not really help. Once or twice a day is enough to stay in the loop. Most importantly, don’t check news in the evening before you go to bed. Use the last two hours of the day to mentally disconnect from all the drama. Watching series or reading fantasy books may help to carry your mind away and have a better sleep.
Figure out which tasks will help you to find some inner balance balance and turn your focus from thing you can’t influence. There are various options to compensate and cope. For some it may be writing, colouring books, reading, listening/making music, fine art, arts&crafts, exercises, even giving parts of your home a new make over. Don’t underestimate the positive effects on your psyche of cleaning your house and cooking. Take care of yourself. Take care of each other.
Wish you all the best, stay healthy, and especially: We are gonna make it through this!